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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 405

IRS Logo 2USA Today op-ed:  Obama's Double Asterisks on IRS, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee):

I guess it's time to award President Obama a second asterisk. When charges came out that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups for harassment, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto started calling Obama "President Asterisk." His point was that this illicit assistance tainted the election, the way an athlete's use of illegal performance-enhancers results in an asterisk on any records he sets.

Now it may be time for another asterisk. As Congress investigates the IRS chicanery, the IRS has responded to a request for emails to and from Lois Lerner, who spearheaded the Tea Party harassment, by saying, basically, that the dog ate its homework. Or, rather, the IRS claims, somewhat dubiously, that "a hard drive crash" on Lerner's computer led to the loss of emails to outside entities "such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices." You know, the very people she's accused of coordinating her harassment with.

With those emails missing, it'll be harder to prove whether Lerner's Tea Party harassment might have been at the behest of other wrongdoers, perhaps going as high as the Oval Office itself. But since government agencies seldom "lose" evidence that makes them look good, reasonable people might suspect that there's a cover-up going on. After all, nobody thought that the famous "18½ minute gap" on Richard Nixon's White House tapes contained anything positive about White House involvement in Watergate. ...

Targeting Americans is unforgivable; covering it up is worse, and if the IRS has made it impossible to target the individuals responsible, then the IRS as a whole should pay the price. That's not an ideal solution, but such misbehavior should not go unpunished.

Los Angeles Times:  The IRS Email Scandal: Where's the Outrage?, by Jonah Goldberg:

Congressional investigators are fuming over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy."

That's the opening sentence of the Associated Press' story on the IRS' claim that it lost an unknown number of emails over two years relating to the agency's alleged targeting of political groups hostile to the president.

But note how the AP casts the story: The investigators — Republican lawmakers — are outraged. 

Is it really so hard to imagine that if this were a Republican administration, the story wouldn't be the frustration of partisan critics of the president? It would be all about that administration's behavior. With the exception of National Journal's Ron Fournier, who called for a special prosecutor to bypass the White House's "stonewalling," and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, it's hard to find a non-conservative journalist who thinks this is a big deal.

Wall Street Journal editorial:  IRS Contempt of Congress:  The Agency Now Admits It Didn't Fully Comply With Subpoenas:

The IRS is now telling Congress that it has lost the emails of no fewer than seven IRS employees central to the targeting of conservative nonprofits, though that's only half the outrage. There's also the IRS's quiet admission that it has spent most of the past year willfully defying Congress.

After informing Congress on Friday that it can't find two years of email from former Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp revealed Tuesday that the IRS can't produce records for six more employees whose hard drives also supposedly failed. These six happen to have been central to the IRS crackdown on conservative groups, and the lost emails were sent when the targeting took place, including in 2010 and 2011. The six include Nicole Flax, former chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. ...

[T]he IRS has from the start been picking and choosing which of Ms. Lerner's emails it deigned to show Congress. And it did so despite knowing that Congress wanted everything. This IRS filter has delayed the investigation and denied Congress access to important information.

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June 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 404

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  A Tale of Two Scandals, by Peggy Noonan:

[T]he Obama administration is experiencing what appears to be its own Eighteen-and-a-Half Minute moment. In a truly stunning development in the Internal Revenue Service scandal, the agency last week informed Congress that more than two years’ of Lois Lerner’s email communications with those outside that agency—from 2009 to 2011, meaning the key years at the heart of the targeting-of-conservatives scandal—have gone missing. Quite strangely. The IRS says it cannot locate them. The reason is that Lerner’s computer crashed....

I haven’t ever met a reporter or producer who wasn’t a conservative who didn’t believe the IRS scandal was the result of the bureaucratic confusion and incompetence of some office workers in Cincinnati who made a mistake.

But the IRS scandal is a scandal, and if you can’t see the relation between a strangely destroyed key piece of evidence in an ongoing scandal and what happened 41 years ago with a strangely destroyed key piece of evidence in an ongoing scandal, something is wrong not with the story but with your news judgment. (We won’t even go into the second story last week, that the IRS sent a big database full of confidential taxpayer information to the FBI.) ...

The mischief of the Nixon administration was specific to it, to its personnel. When Chuck Colson left, he left. All the figures in that drama failed to permanently disfigure the edifice of government. They got caught, and their particular brand of mischief ended.

But the IRS scandal is different, because if it isn’t stopped—if it isn’t fully uncovered, exposed, and its instigators held accountable—it will suggest an acceptance of the politicization of the IRS, and an expected and assumed partisanship within its future actions. That will be terrible not only for citizens but for the government itself.

And the IRS scandal will also have disfigured government in a new and killing way. IRS scandals in the past were about the powerful (Richard Nixon) abusing the powerful (Edward Bennett Williams). This scandal is about the powerful (Lois Lerner, et a.) abusing the not-powerful (normal, on-the-ground Americans such as rural tea-party groups). If it comes to be understood that this kind of thing is how the government now does business, it will be terrible for the spirit and reality of the country.

So many of those who decide what is news cannot, on this issue, see the good faith and honest concern of the many who make this warning. And really, that is tragic.

What are the implications of this claim? It means no one can see any emails Lerner sent to or received from other agencies and individuals, including the White House and members of Congress.

And what is amazing—not surprising, but amazing—is that if my experience of normal human conversation the past few days is any guide, very few people are talking about it and almost no one cares.

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June 17, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, June 16, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 403

IRS Logo 2National Journal:  Did The IRS Really Lose Lois Lerner's Emails? Let a Special Prosecutor Find Them, by Ron Fournier:

A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn't blame a person for suspecting a cover-up -- the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea party controversy. And, because the public's trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.

If the IRS can't find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can. ...

The White House is stonewalling the IRS investigation. The most benign  explanation is that Obama's team is politically expedient and arrogant, which makes them desperate to change the subject, and convinced of their institutional innocence. That's bad enough. But without a fiercely independent investigation, we shouldn't assume the explanation is benign.

Roger Kimball, 18 1/2 Minutes vs. 2 Years: Which Is Worse?:

WoodsWriting yesterday about the IRS’s amazing loss of more than two years of Lois Lerner’s emails (“Where’d they go? They were here just a minute ago!”), I wondered in passing how the Extended White House Public Relations Office, e.g., the New York Times, MSNBC, et al. would handle the news. The Nixon White House, you’ll recall, found quite a lot of the morning’s scrambled on its collective countenance when 18 and 1/2 minutes of audio tape somehow went missing as the Watergate scandal unfolded around the president.

What a godsend to the guardians of our “Right to Know” Watergate was! Day after day, week after week, month after month, the front pages and editorial pages of our former Paper of Record were full of stern admonitions about that egregious abuse of executive power. You could not look at the paper without a synesthetic shudder: Reading it, you could almost hear them licking their chops as their prey—the dastardly Richard Nixon—came ever closer to his doom.

So how does the New York Times handle this extraordinary loss of two years’ worth of Lois Lerner’s emails? ... This will amaze you, I know, but it is true: the New York Times today devotes zero words to the story. Take a look at the front page here: Nothing. ... [A]bout the missing emails in one of the most disgusting political scandals in recent times, the deployment of the IRS with its virtually unlimited powers, against political opponents of the administration? Nothing. Nada. Rien.

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June 16, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 402

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial:  The IRS Loses Lerner's Emails (And Other News That the Beltway Press Corps Won't Cover):

The IRS—remember those jaunty folks?—announced Friday that it can't find two years of emails from Lois Lerner to the Departments of Justice or Treasury. And none to the White House or Democrats on Capitol Hill. An agency spokesman blames a computer crash.

Never underestimate government incompetence, but how convenient. The former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations was at the center of the IRS targeting of conservative groups and still won't testify before Congress. Now we'll never know whose orders she was following, or what directions she was giving. If the Reagan White House had ever offered up this excuse, John Dingell would have held the entire government in contempt.

The suspicion that this is willful obstruction of Congress is all the more warranted because this week we also learned that the IRS, days before the 2010 election, shipped a 1.1 million page database about tax-exempt groups to the FBI. ...

New IRS Commissioner John Koskinen promised to cooperate with Congress. But either he is being undermined by his staff, or he's aiding the agency's stonewalling. And now that we know that Justice was canoodling with Ms. Lerner, its own dilatory investigation becomes easier to understand. Or maybe that was a computer crash too.&

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June 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 401

IRS Logo 2House Ways & Means Committee Press Release:  IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails (June 13, 2014):

Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011.  Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame.  The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries.  There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.

“Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents.  It appears now that was an empty promise.  Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies.  Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone.  This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner.  The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials.  It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.”

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) added, "In the course of the Committee's investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. Only now - thirteen months into the investigation - the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost.  And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon.  In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people.  If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"

IRS Statement (June 13, 2014):

At the request of the Senate Finance Committee, the IRS today provided a summary of its production of email and materials to the Committee related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status, as described in the May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS has made unprecedented efforts in connection with this effort, producing more than 750,000 pages of documents to help complete the investigations. In total, the IRS’s efforts to respond to Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million.

As we advised the committee three months ago, we have completed the production of materials related to the investigation, including 11,000 emails sent or received by Lois Lerner.

Since then, at the request of other Congressional committees, the IRS has been working on the identification and production of other Lois Lerner emails. The additional emails do not relate to the Finance Committee’s investigation. As part of this additional search, the IRS collected emails from 83 individuals. Congressional investigators have – or will soon have – a total of 67,000 emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner. In the course of collecting and producing Ms. Lerner’s additional emails, the IRS determined her hard drive crashed in 2011. At the time, Ms. Lerner asked IRS IT professionals to restore her hard drive, but they were unable to do so. Nonetheless, the IRS has or will produce 24,000 Lerner emails from this 2009-2011 time period, largely from the files of the other 82 individuals. The IRS’s production to Congress of the 67,000 Lerner emails is nearly complete.

The IRS is committed to working with Congress. The IRS has remained focused on being thorough and responding as quickly as possible to the wide-ranging requests from Congress while taking steps to protect underlying taxpayer information.

IRS Letter to Senate Finance Committee (June 13, 2014):

I am writing to provide an update on IRS document productions to Congress. As of mid-March 2014, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee had received the documents the IRS identified as related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status as described in the May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. See Enclosure 1. As my August 29, 2013 letter to you described, in order to produce those documents, we ran agreed search terms on many (then 77, now 83) custodians’ electronic materials, reviewed the resulting materials for responsive documents, and produced them. See Enclosure 2. Production of those materials identified as responsive from the agreed custodians and search terms was completed three months ago. See Enclosure 1.

The IRS hopes that your investigation can be concluded and the Senate Finance Committee’s report issued in the very near future so that the IRS can then take further corrective action to address issues, where necessary. Congressional reports are important to learn from, address, and move beyond the problems and concerns identified. Your committee’s conclusions and recommendations will be a critically important step in that process.

More than 250 IRS employees have spent over 120,000 hours working on compliance with several investigations stemming from last May’s report related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. We have responded to hundreds of Congressional requests for information. In so doing, the IRS has incurred a direct cost of nearly $10 million. We have spent an additional $6-8 million to optimize existing information technology systems and ensure a stable infrastructure for the production and required redactions to protect taxpayer information. I have attached a document describing some of the challenges and limitations that the IRS faced in its production process. See Enclosure 3.

Since mid-March, in response to Chairman Dave Camp’s request and Chairman Darrell Issa’s subpoena, the IRS has been reviewing and producing all remaining email for which Lois Lerner was a custodian – regardless of search terms, relevance, or subject matter. In other words, these Lerner documents are beyond and in addition to the already-produced Lerner materials the IRS identified as related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status, which your Committee had received by mid-March. In addition, as described in Enclosure 3, when unavailable from Ms. Lerner’s custodial account, we are producing Lerner-related email (i.e., email on which Ms. Lerner was an author or recipient) from other custodians regardless of subject matter. In certain instances, such as personal conversations between Ms. Lerner and her family regarding health issues, we expect to make the materials available here at the IRS for interested Congressional staff to come review. In all, the IRS has produced or will produce or make available approximately 67,000 emails in which Ms. Lerner was an author or a recipient. As per your staff’s request, we will continue to include your committee in our productions until or unless you instruct us otherwise.

Description of IRS Email Collection and Production (June 13, 2014):

Over the past year, the Internal Revenue Service made a massive document production in response to Congressional and other inquiries. This activity has been challenging since processing email for production to third parties is a more complex process for the IRS than it is for many private or public organizations. Below we analyze why it is so complicated for the agency to respond to what otherwise in this modern day seem like straightforward requests, including an assessment of what is and is not currently possible. Sophisticated IRS information technology systems are designed to facilitate tax administration, cost-effective use of resources, and preserve confidential taxpayer information, not to facilitate matters related to document preservation, collection, processing, and review. The IRS faces unique challenges in producing email to third parties because of how its email is stored, the security required for IRS email, and the laws protecting confidential taxpayer information from disclosure.

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June 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, June 13, 2014

President Obama Requests 10.5% Budget Increase for IRS, Despite IRS's Failure to Perform Basic Budget Planning

GAO LogoThe Government Accountability Office has released IRS 2015 Budget: Long-Term Strategy and Return on Investment Data Needed to Better Manage Budget Uncertainty and Set Priorities (GAO-14-605):

Since fiscal year 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has declined by about $900 million. As a result, funding is below fiscal year 2009 levels.

IRS Appropriations FY 2009 - 2014 and FY 2015 Requested Appropriation

IRS Appropriations Fiscal Years 2009 through 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015 Requested Appropriation

Staffing has also declined by about 10,000 full-time equivalents since fiscal year 2010, and performance has been uneven. ...

IRS does not calculate actual ROI or use it for resource decisions. These limitations are important, which is why GAO recommended in 2012 that IRS explore developing such estimates. ... GAO recommends that IRS (1) develop a long-term strategy to manage uncertain budgets, and (2) calculate actual ROI for implemented initiatives, compare actual ROI to projected ROI, and use the data to inform resource decisions.

June 13, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 400

IRS Logo 2Power Line Blog, Bill Henck: Inside the IRS, Part 3:

William Henck has worked inside the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. We posted his personal account, including his testimony to a retaliatory audit conducted by the IRS against him, this past February in “Inside the IRS” and followed up with Inside the IRS, part 2″ in May. ... Henck’s experience illuminates a deeply sinister aspect of the current controversy over the agency’s illegal activities.

American Spectator:  Mickelson Targeted Like Tea Partiers?:

Here's how it sounds to me: Famous rich athlete complains about the negative incentives caused by high taxes. Government usees especially aggressive tactics to try to find him guilty of securities violations, not least perhaps intentionally leaking the existence of an investigation, a story which the Obama-cheerleading, tax-loving NY Times is only too happy to cover. The Times then reports that "Mr. Mickelson’s ties to the investigation are weaker than previously reported." But of course much of the damage to Mickelson is done, harming his reputation as well as distracting him from his profession and the rest of his life.

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June 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yesterday's Tax Reports

June 12, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 399

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  FBI Returns Taxpayer Information It Got From IRS:

The FBI has returned a large database of taxpayer information it received from the IRS, amid an investigation into possible political targeting of conservative groups, the FBI's director said on Wednesday.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, James Comey said FBI investigators didn't examine the database, which included private taxpayer information that isn't supposed to be shared without a judge's order. "The only thing that was done, (was) analysts looked at the table of contents,'' Mr. Comey said.

In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that law-enforcement officials don't expect to file criminal charges as a result of the probe into how the IRS scrutinized conservative tax-exempt groups.

Congressional Republicans are incensed that the IRS transmitted a 1.1 million-page database of information concerning tax-exempt organizations to the FBI shortly before the 2010 election.

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June 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 398

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Another IRS Abuse: Lois Lerner's Office Sent Confidential Taxpayer Data to the FBI:

In a Monday letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Reps. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) of the House Oversight Committee reveal still another IRS abuse of conservatives. In October of 2010, apparently without a court order, the IRS sent 21 computer disks containing 1.1 million pages of tax-return documents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the Justice Department, the massive data dump included public returns from non-profit groups but also taxpayer information that by law the IRS is required to keep confidential. Reps. Issa and Jordan ask in their letter for information relating to the preparation and transmittal of the data.

How did these documents wind up at the FBI? In September of 2010, IRS officials including Lois Lerner and Sarah Hall Ingram helped the New York Times prepare a story about non-profit policy groups which "heavily favored Republicans" in their purchases of issue advertising. 

The day after the article appeared, Justice Department Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith noted the story in an email to colleagues and asked whether they could charge the groups with conspiracy to violate U.S. laws. Mr. Smith also suggested scheduling a meeting with Ms. Ingram, who like Ms. Lerner was a senior official overseeing tax-exempt organizations at the IRS. ...

Last month, 26 House Democrats joined with Republicans in voting to urge Attorney General Eric Holder "to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative nonprofit groups by the Internal Revenue Service." The new revelations of taxpayer abuse ensure that Congressional pressure for a more thorough investigation will continue.

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June 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

IRS Adopts Taxpayer Bill of Rights

TBOR

The IRS today announced (IR-2014-72) the adoption of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights in updated Publication 1:

  1. The Right to Be Informed
  2. The Right to Quality Service
  3. The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
  4. The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
  5. The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
  6. The Right to Finality
  7. The Right to Privacy
  8. The Right to Confidentiality
  9. The Right to Retain Representation
  10. The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System  

TBOR 2

Taxpayer Advocate Service, Taxpayer Bill of Rights:

Since assuming her position in 2001, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has emphasized the protection of taxpayer rights in tax administration. In her 2007 Annual Report to Congress, and in later reports, she proposed a new Taxpayer Bill of Rights. On June 10, 2014, the IRS formally adopted the Advocate’s proposal, to renew the focus on protecting the rights of taxpayers in all of their dealings with the IRS.  

This document groups the dozens of existing rights in the Internal Revenue Code into ten fundamental rights, and makes these rights clear, understandable, and accessible for taxpayers and IRS employees alike.

Taxpayer Advocate Service, What the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Means for You

Update:

June 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 397

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, IRS Sent FBI Database on Nonprofit Groups in 2010, GOP Lawmakers Say:

The IRS transmitted a 1.1 million-page database of information concerning tax-exempt organizations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the run-up to the 2010 election, including confidential taxpayer information that should not have been shared, according to House GOP lawmakers investigating the IRS.

The information was to be used in investigations of nonprofit groups' political activity, the lawmakers say, citing internal emails from the agencies.

The Justice Department turned over the database to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this month in response to a subpoena, officials said on Monday.

"We were extremely troubled by this new information, and by the fact that the IRS has withheld it from the committee for over a year," wrote Reps. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We were astonished to learn days ago from the Justice Department that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law."

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June 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Treasury Department Employee Firing Rate Is 4th Lowest Among Federal Agencies

Cato Institute, Federal Firing Rate by Department:

Treasury - IRSThe VA scandal has prompted a debate about whether it should be easier to fire federal workers. I’ve argued that the firing rate for poor performance should be increased.

However, there can be no debate that the current firing rate is very low. In 2013 just 9,244 workers out of a civilian federal workforce of 1.87 million were fired for poor performance or misconduct, according to OPM data underlying this Govexec.com article by Eric Katz. That is a rate of just 0.49 percent, or 1 in 200 a year. Most federal firings are for misconduct, with a smaller share for poor performance.

The Govexec.com analysis found that firing rates by type of employee vary dramatically. Blue collar and lower GS levels (1-10) are many times more likely to be fired than higher GS levels (11-15) and those in the Senior Executive Service (SES). The GS 11-15 firing rate was just 0.14 percent, while the SES rate was just 0.09 percent. Just 7 out 7,940 SES employees got fired in 2013.

The rate of firing of GS 11-15 Treasury Department employees in 2013 was 0.11% (1 in 900), the fourth smallest rate among 18 federal agencies: 

Firing

June 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 396

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 395

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 394

IRS Logo 2The Jersualem Post editorial:   Z Street and the IRS:

The Z Street case may be what forces the IRS to pull aside its carefully constructed curtain and reveal how it made decisions regarding organizations deemed out of step with the current US administration

Last spring, the US media were filled with accusations that the IRS was using its power over nonprofits to stifle opposition to the Obama administration.

While congressional efforts to investigate the alleged wrongdoings have been stymied, a decision by a federal judge in Washington may force the IRS to disclose whether a small, staunchly pro-Israel group was victimized.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia threw out every legal defense the IRS raised in Z Street v. Koskinen, IRS Commissioner. She ordered the IRS to provide a substantive answer to Z Street’s complaint by June 26.

Z Street brought its lawsuit for viewpoint discrimination after, it alleges, the IRS agent to whom the organization’s file had been assigned said Z Street’s application for tax exemption might take a long time to process because the IRS “has to give special scrutiny to organizations connected to Israel,” and that the files of some of those applicants “will be sent to a special unit in Washington to determine whether the activities of the organization contradict the public policies of the administration.”

If borne out by the evidence, this would be an astounding violation of free speech rights.

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June 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 6, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 393

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, Schumer’s IRS:

Did Chuck Schumer try to use the IRS to sidestep the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling — and stick a dagger in the heart of conservative groups? That’s the gist of a complaint filed this week with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. ...

The complaint notes Schumer signed letters asking the IRS if it was investigating “social welfare organizations” to see if they were improperly campaigning. Turns out the IRS did investigate. And — surprise! — almost all the groups singled out for special IRS scrutiny were conservative.

It also points to a Schumer speech made earlier this year called “The Rise of the Tea Party and How Progressives Can Fight Back.” The speech, says the complaint, explains how the IRS could be a tool “to stamp out Tea Party organizations.”

Up to now, the press has not regarded the clear and deliberate IRS targeting of conservative organizations as a scandal, because it’s found no evidence it was ordered by the White House. If the Center for Competitive Politics is right, maybe the media should start looking at the Senate.m. 

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June 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 392

IRS Logo 2Washington Post:  The Rhythm of a Federal Scandal, by Tom Hicks:

Federal scandals tend to share certain common characteristics, especially with the way they play out. Let’s review some recent examples of government misconduct to understand the trends.

As case studies, we’ll use the the cover-ups of treatment delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals, the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups and the General Service Administration’s lavish training conference in Las Vegas. 

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June 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 391

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Conservative Group Accuses Nine Dem Senators of Unethical Conduct:

A conservative group is calling on the Senate ethics committee to examine nine top Democrats, accusing them of pushing the IRS to investigate specific groups.

The Center for Competitive Politicsannounced their complaint Tuesday, in which they charge that lawmakers tried to get the tax agency to probe outside conservative groups.

“These senators improperly attempted to use the IRS to suppress the free speech of American citizens for their party’s electoral gain,” said Brad Smith, chairman of the Center and a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “We will fight this type of abuse of power and work to ensure that those who have violated Senate Ethics rules are held to account.”

The group wants the ethics panel to look at Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Tom Udall (N.M.).

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June 4, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

IRS Releases Spring 2014 SOI Bulletin

SOIThe IRS's Statistics of Income Division has released (IR-2014-69) the Spring 2014 SOI Bulletin (Vol. 33, No. 4), with these articles:

June 3, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Jones: The IRS Should Reevaluate its Floundering ADR Program

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Ken Jones (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Washington, D.C.), Appeals Arbitration: Not a Compelling Litigation Alternative, 143 Tax Notes 1059 (June 2, 2014):

IRS Appeals announced its initial arbitration program in 2000, and after 14 years, there apparently have been only a few cases resolved by binding arbitration. Appeals arbitration has failed to become popular in the tax controversy marketplace, and there are some likely reasons for the program's lack of success. ... I offer my observations about the arbitration program, why it has not been embraced by taxpayers as a viable alternative to litigation, and why Appeals should reevaluate the role of binding arbitration -- and, indeed, all of its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) tools -- to determine whether they are meeting the needs of the taxpayers and the IRS.

June 2, 2014 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 389

IRS Logo 2Thiago Sorrentino was kind enough to let me know that the Supreme Court of Brazil (the Supremo Tribunal Federal) has cited my daily roundup on the IRS Scandal in Medida Cautelar NA Susepnsao De Tutela Antecipada (STA/752):

Without revealing transparency of the criteria for application of the tax rules , the appeal of the State to protect free enterprise and fair competition declines to a cognitive framework of uncertainty , as that on which the fiscalizatórios thorough review procedures of the Internal Revenue Service U.S. , due to the selectivity of legal interpretation as non- legal criteria ( see, for all the record that Prof. . Caron Paul does in http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/05/the-irs-scandal- 17.html ); In these terms , the argument would only be permissible risk to free enterprise and fair competition that each taxpayer could realize the full control of the criteria used to apply tax rules , both those that define the tax burden as those that effectively prohibit the exercise of activity economic lawful. Given these caveats, impart pled measure to suspend the company - interested in the records of Action to advance protection 

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June 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 388

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 387

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Did IRS Target Israel? Suit By Pro-Israel Z Street Will Move Forward, by Peter J. Reilly:

This lawsuit much like Teapartygate confirms me in my view, that the evaluation of whether an organization's purposes should allow it exempt status is not something that the IRS should be doing. There are credits for historic buildings, but it is not the IRS that decides whether the buildings are historic. The same principle should apply here.

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May 31, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 30, 2014

IRS Eyes New Ways to Tax Frequent Flyer Miles

New York Sun:  IRS Eyes New Ways to Tax Miles of Frequent Fliers, by Ira Stoll:

Just in time for your summer vacation, the IRS is getting ready to toughen the tax treatment on frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty reward programs.

The IRS announced in 2002 that it wouldn’t try to go after individuals for income taxes on frequent flyer miles or hotel loyalty points earned on company-paid business trips.  Yet the temptation to wring some tax revenue out of the vast non-dollar economy of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Marriott Rewards points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta Skymiles, and so on is apparently so great that that the government just cannot resist.

Sure enough, the Tax Foundation, a research group that tracks tax issues, flags a recent post on the View From the Wing blog that runs under the provocative headline, “The IRS Looks To Be on the Verge of Imposing a Big Tax Burden on Loyalty Points.”

The IRS’s plans are vague, but they have airlines and hotel owners concerned enough about the issue that they reportedly sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “The IRS’ proposal to alter the tax treatment of loyalty programs will impose a significant new tax on existing and future loyalty points that travel customers enjoy and rely upon,” said the letter, according to a report in Politico. “Any change or clarification of loyalty program accounting should be made through the legislative process, not IRS promulgation.”

Frequent flyer mile fanatics got a wake-up call on the issue back in 2012 when Citibank sent IRS Forms 1099, documenting “miscellaneous income,” at a rate of 2.5 cents a mile, to customers who had signed up for an American Airlines-branded credit card and gotten 40,000 AAdvantage miles as a bonus. It was an unpleasant surprise to cardholders who thought they were getting a free trip, not an unwanted extra tax bill.

May 30, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 386

IRS Logo 2Commentary:  Phony Scandal? Courts Open Window on the IRS’s Political Litmus Tests, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

Interest in the Internal Revenue Service’s outrageous practice of subjecting politically conservative groups to discriminatory treatment has died down a bit since the revelations about this scandal first hit the news a year ago. But a court decision that was handed down earlier this week about a similar instance of potential government misconduct may shed more light on the way the Tea Party and other right-wing organizations were given the business by Lois Lerner and the rest of what appears to be a highly politicized bureaucracy at the heart of our tax collection system. ...

In other words, this case may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of the IRS’s politically prejudicial policies. If an IRS agent can reject or stall a pro-Israel group’s application on the grounds that “these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies,” then no group, no matter what its political orientation or cause is safe from being subjected to a political litmus test designed by any administration of either political party. ...

Using the IRS to punish political foes is blatantly illegal. If, as we suspect, the Z Street case reveals the sort of internal email traffic that will reveal how widespread this practice has become in the last five years, perhaps even a liberal mainstream press that still thinks the problems at the IRS are a “phony scandal” will start to pay attention.

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May 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 385

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial:  IRS Judgment Day: The Untalkative Agency Comes Under Scrutiny From a Federal Judge:

The IRS continues to evade questions about its handling of applications for tax-exempt status from groups whose political views conflicted with the Obama Administration's. That may change. A federal judge's ruling will force the agency to defend itself in court and go through discovery on its handling of a slow-tracked application.

In 2009 a Pennsylvania group called Z Street applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status for its mission of educating people about Zionism and other policies related to Israel and the Middle East. In May 2010 the group received a request from the IRS for more information, which it sent. According to Z Street's complaint, two months later the agent in charge of reviewing the application told Z Street's counsel she was holding up the application because of her concerns that the group engaged in advocacy related to the Middle East. 

According to the complaint, Agent Diane Gentry said that special attention was given to Israel-related groups and that "these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization's activities contradict the Administration's public policies." We've since learned that the agency's November 2010 "Be On the Lookout" list also flagged agents to look out for words related to Israel or "inflammatory" references to "disputed territories." ...

This ruling will force the IRS to open its books on the procedures it used and decisions it made reviewing Z Street's tax-exempt application, procedures it has tried to keep shrouded. As the case proceeds, Z Street's attorneys can seek depositions from many who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups.

It will be fascinating to see which names— Lois Lerner, former head of IRS tax-exempt scrutiny?—show up in the internal email traffic. The Administration may have a harder time evading accountability now that a judge will be supervising the testimony.

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May 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 384

IRS Logo 2Government Executive:  Justice Fires Back at Issa on Testimony Over IRS Probe:

Tuesday, May 27, was the day the Justice Department was supposed to produce a key prosecutor to testify to staff on a House panel probing alleged political favoritism at the Internal Revenue Service.

But that was according to a May 22 letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is concerned about what he sees as improper coordination between IRS and Justice in deciding which groups to investigate for possible campaign finance law violations.

As of publication time May 27, there was no scheduled appearance by Jack Smith, chief of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, and no updated comment from the department or Issa’s panel.

What did emerge on Tuesday was a letter from Justice explaining its procedures and reasoning on questions of testifying to Congress. It comes as the latest wrinkle in the year-old controversy over IRS efforts to single out for extra scrutiny certain nonprofit groups applying for tax-exempt status

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May 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NY Times: IRS Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges

New York Times:  IRS Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges:

Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day — or $36,500 a year — for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.

The ruling this month, by the IRS, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.

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May 27, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 383

Monday, May 26, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 382

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 381

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 380

IRS Logo 2House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Testimony: In 2010, Justice Department Sought Lois Lerner’s Help to Prosecute Tax Exempt Groups Engaging in Politics:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, today requested that the Department of Justice make DOJ Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith available for a transcribed interview. The request comes after Smith’s subordinate, Director of DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, told Committee investigators in a transcribed interview that the Justice Department met with Lois Lerner in October 2010, two and a half years earlier than previously known, to discuss potential criminal enforcement relating to political speech of nonprofit groups in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

“The Committee’s transcribed interview of Richard Pilger presents further troubling information about the Department’s contemplated prosecution of nonprofit groups for false statements,” Chairman Issa and Chairman Jordan state in the letter.  “It is apparent that the Department’s leadership, including Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith, was closely involved in engaging with the IRS in wake of Citizens United and political pressure from prominent Democrats to address perceived problems with the decision.”

“According to Mr. Pilger,” the letter continues, “the Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits.  This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”

The meeting occurred days before Lois Lerner spoke at a Duke University event about the immense political pressure on the IRS to “fix the problem” created by Citizens United before the 2010 midterm election.

Earlier this week, Chairman Issa issued a subpoena after Pilger declined to answer critical questions on the instructions of a Justice Department lawyer during a transcribed interview on May 6, 2014.  The subpoena followed an April 23, 2014 letter from 17 Members of the Committee requesting materials concerning the Department’s involvement in efforts to scrutinize tax-exempt applicants after emails surfaced between Pilger and the Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner where they discussed singling out and prosecuting tax-exempt applicants, at the urging of a Democratic Senator.

Letter embedded below.

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May 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 23, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 379

IRS Logo 2IRS Update on the Proposed New Regulation on 501(c)(4) Organizations:

Last November, Treasury and the IRS proposed a new regulation governing political activity of section 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposal generated over 150,000 written comments — the most comments ever received by Treasury and IRS on a proposed tax regulation. Consistent with our standard rulemaking process, we intend to review those comments carefully, take into account public feedback, and consider any necessary changes. Consistent with what Commissioner Koskinen has previously stated, it is likely that we will make some changes to the proposed regulation in light of the comments we have received. Given the diversity of views expressed and the volume of substantive input, we have concluded that it would be more efficient and useful to hold a public hearing after we publish the revised proposed regulation. Treasury and the IRS remain committed to providing updated standards for tax-exemption that are fair, clear, and easier to administer.

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May 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

318,000 Federal Workers Owe $3.3 Billion in Back Taxes (Delinquency Rate Is 33% Higher Among VA Employees)

318,462 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.3 billion in back income taxes as of September 30, 2013, a delinquency rate of 3.27% (compared to 8.7% for the entire U.S. population). See the full spreadsheet here.

Among the 18 executive departments, the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs has the second highest delinquency rate among its employees:  4.38% (behind the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 5.29%).

Among 27 large (> 1,000 employees) independent agencies, the Federal Reserve has the third highest delinquency rate:  6.51%.

The delinquency rate is 4.87% in the House of Representatives and 2.43% in the Senate.

In the tax world, the delinquency rate is 3.02 in the Tax Court and 1.20% in the Treasury Department (the IRS is not separately broken out).

For prior years data, see:

May 22, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 378

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 377

IRS Logo 2House Commitee on Oversight & Government Reform Press Release,  After DOJ Dodges Questions, Issa Subpoenas Justice Department for IRS Investigation Targeting Documents:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents after Richard Pilger, Director of the Department’s Election Crimes Branch, refused to answer critical questions on the instructions of Justice Department counsel during a transcribed interview on May 6, 2014. The subpoena follows an April 23, 2014 letter from 17 Members of the Committee requesting materials concerning the Department’s involvement in efforts to scrutinize tax-exempt applicants after emails surfaced between Pilger and the Internal Revenue Service’s Lois G. Lerner where they discussed singling out and prosecuting tax-exempt applicants, at the urging of a Democratic Senator.  As the Federal Election Commission, the IRS and the Justice Department looked for ways to minimize the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, a clear outline emerges of government agencies cracking down on constitutionally protected free speech.

In a letter accompanying the subpoena, Chairman Issa stated: “The Department’s refusal to allow Mr. Pilger to testify about matters highly relevant to the Committee’s investigation unnecessarily delays and frustrates the Committee’s Constitutional oversight obligations.  The Department’s obstruction in this regard, coupled with its failure to produce any relevant material to date, leads the Committee to conclude the Department is not seriously committed to cooperating with the Committee’s investigation on the Committee’s terms.”

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May 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 376

IRS Logo 2 Taxable Talk:  Deadlines for Us, But Not for Them (Part 2), by Russ Fox (Clayton Financial and Tax, Las Vegas):

The IRS and Democrats wishing the IRS scandal to vanish won’t make it so. The revelations during the last week are going to harden Republicans’ stance on funding the IRS. The taxpaying public will suffer because of this, but I can’t lay the blame on the GOP here. Someone ordered the targeting of Tea Party groups, and until that person is made known and the IRS stops its delaying tactics on the scandal, the IRS’ budget will go down, not up.

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May 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 19, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 375

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 374

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 373

Friday, May 16, 2014

IRS Seeks Grant Applications for Funding for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

IRS Logo 2The IRS announced yesterday (IR-2014-63) that it is accepting grant applications for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics for the 2015 grant cycle (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2015). Applications will be accepted through June 20, 2014. The LITC program awards matching grants of up to $100,000 per year to qualifying organizations to develop, expand, or maintain a low income taxpayer clinic. 

The IRS welcomes all applications and will ensure that each application receives full consideration. The IRS is particularly interested in receiving applications from organizations that will operate in areas that are currently underserved.

Currently underserved areas are as follows:

Identified Underserved Areas

States and Territories

Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Puerto Rico

Metropolitan Areas

Los Angeles, Calif., including the following counties:

Los Angeles, Kern, Riverside, Ventura

Sacramento, Calif., including the following counties:

El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus

Northern Virginia, including the following counties:

Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, Prince William

May 16, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA: 47% of Alimony Deductions Claimed Don't Match Alimony Income Reported to IRS

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday Significant Discrepancies Exist Between Alimony Deductions Claimed by Payers and Income Reported by Recipients (2014-40-022):

Individuals who pay alimony can deduct the amount paid from income on their tax return to reduce the amount of tax an individual must pay. Conversely, individuals who receive alimony must claim the amount received as income on their tax return. TIGTA initiated this audit to evaluate the alimony reporting gap and to assess controls the IRS has in place to promote reporting compliance.

Processes have not been developed to address the majority of discrepancies between alimony deductions claimed and income reported. TIGTA’s analysis of the 567,887 Tax Year 2010 returns with an alimony deduction claim identified 266,190 (47 percent) tax returns in which it appears that individuals claimed alimony deductions for which income was not reported on a corresponding recipient’s tax return or the amount of alimony income reported did not agree with the amount of the deduction taken. There is a discrepancy of more than $2.3 billion in deductions claimed without corresponding income reported.

May 16, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 372

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May 16, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 371

Judicial Watch, New Documents Show IRS HQ Control of Tea Party Targeting:

Judicial Watch today released a new batch of IRS documents revealing that its handling of Tea Party applications was directed out of the agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC.  The documents also show extensive pressure on the IRS by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to shut down conservative-leaning tax-exempt organizations. The IRS’ emails by Lois Lerner detail her misleading explanations to investigators about the targeting of Tea Party organizations. ...

“These new documents show that officials in the IRS headquarters were responsible for the illegal delays of Tea Party applications,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is disturbing to see Lois Lerner mislead the IRS’ internal investigators about her office’s Tea Party targeting. These documents also confirm the unprecedented pressure from congressional Democrats to go after President Obama’s political opponents. The IRS scandal has now ensnared Congress.”

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May 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 370

IRS Logo 2Power Line:  The IRS Scandal for Dummies:

Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.

Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS has very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.

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May 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Again Fails to Comply With Statutory Mandated Reduction in Improper Payments -- 26% EITC Fraud Costs $16 Billion/Year

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released The Internal Revenue Service Fiscal Year 2013 Improper Payment Reporting Continues to Not Comply With the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2014-40-027):

The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) of 2010 strengthened agency reporting requirements and redefined “significant improper payments” in Federal programs. The Office of Management and Budget has declared the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program a high-risk program that is subject to reporting in the Department of the Treasury Agency Financial Report. The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.

The IRS continues to not provide all required IPERA information to the Department of the Treasury for inclusion in the Department of the Treasury Agency Financial Report Fiscal Year 2013. For the third consecutive year, the IRS did not publish annual reduction targets or report an improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for the EITC. IRS management has indicated that the IRS and the Department of the Treasury are in continued discussions with the Office of Management and Budget to obtain its approval to develop supplemental measures that are appropriate to gauge the impact of EITC compliance and outreach efforts in lieu of developing error reduction targets. Finally, although risk assessments were performed for each of the programs that the Department of the Treasury required the IRS to assess, the risk assessment process still may not provide a valid assessment of improper payments in tax administration. As such, the EITC remains the only revenue program fund to be considered at high risk for improper payments.

TIGTA

TIGTA 2

May 13, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 369

IRS Logo 2USA Today op-ed:  The Media Ignore IRS Scandal, by Paul L. Caron:

Today's news media are largely ignoring the IRS scandal, and it is impossible to have confidence in the current investigations by the FBI, Justice Department, and House committee. I am not suggesting that the current scandal in the end will rise to the level of Watergate. But the allegations are serious, and fair-minded Americans of both parties should agree that a thorough investigation needs to be undertaken to either debunk them or confirm them.

Step one should be to give Lois Lerner full immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. And then let the chips fall where they may.

Rasmussen Reports:  57% Favor Further Investigation of the IRS:

Half of voters still believe the IRS broke the law when it targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups, and even more think the matter needs to be looked into further.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think the Obama administration’s handling of the IRS matter merits further investigation. Just half as many (28%) say the case should be closed. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

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May 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, May 12, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 368

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial:  Our Newly Efficient IRS:

Many of the press accounts we read suggest there is no scandal here unless the targeting of Americans for their conservative political beliefs can be tied back to President Obama or the White House.

We beg to differ. Wouldn’t it be even more frightening if a federal agency as powerful as the IRS on its own decided to use its vast powers to squelch others on the basis of politics and ideology?

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May 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 367